As death clouds circle Kashmir once again, the voices for freedom grow louder in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK). The extra-judicial killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani, a prominent Kashmiri leader revered by the youth, by government forces in India-held Kashmir (IHK) has caused clashes between Indian troops and protesters in the region, killing 15. Indian authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in most parts of Kashmir on Saturday in order to prevent scores of people taking to the streets for the funeral. Despite that, hundreds of protesters came out in several neighbourhoods in southern Kashmir, chanting “Go India! Go back” and “We want freedom”.

The death of Burhan Wani may be considered a huge win for the Indian troops, but for the Kashmiri people it is nothing but the worst form of oppression and brutality. Burhan Wani had become a household name over the past five years, a young boy at 15, he had picked up arms due to the Indian troops cruelty towards his brother, and since then had become a prominent and respected leader within the separatist leaders’ ranks. His video clips and pictures were widely circulated among young people in Kashmir, whereby he would target the educated youth of Kashmir to the cause of freedom and liberation from the tyranny of the Indian regime. His death will only serve to consolidate his legacy and larger than life persona, and will cause many of his devoted followers to join the Kashmir militancy.

The government forces in Indian Held Kashmir are facing new challenges in the face of the brutality they have long exercised on the Kashmiri people. Senior police officers say that the uprising of the local people to become fearless and openly defying the troops in their efforts to help militants by putting themselves in harm’s way is a worrying recent development in the decades-long insurgency in the disputed territory. In March, a group of nine heavily armed rebels were trapped in an open field not far from Kakapora as troops moved in. Hundreds of villagers armed with stones descended on the field, as word quickly spread. In the absence of international outrage for the rights of the people of Kashmir, they are taking it upon themselves to speak out and defy Indian occupation in whatever capacity they can. Students, housewives, school principals, each and every Kashmiri is sick and tired of the violence against their loved ones and is rising to defend themselves and their land.